The Ketchikan School Board Wednesday night took its first action on the FY16 budget and heard from the public about positions that may be at risk if the budget passes as is.
In first reading Wednesday night the Ketchikan School Board made no changes to the budget Superintendent Robert Boyle presented.
Boyle said it is unusual for the Board to make no changes, but believes it speaks to the work the administration and Board have already put in this year. He has been tweaking the budget over the last few months especially taking into consideration public opinion. Boyle saids that this year the public budget hearings had more people than usual, which he appreciated and he was able to make changes based on that input.
“I feel that’s why we didn’t make any changes tonight. We got a lot of input from the public, the Board has had a lot of opportunity to make input since about February, and that does not mean that we won’t make changes on the 22nd.”
On the 22nd ,the next regular scheduled Board meeting, the Board must adopt the budget in order to submit it to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly by May 1st. Before the 22nd the Legislature will have made final decisions on the state budget. Board Member Stephen Bradford was hesitant to rearrange the budget ahead of that.
“I propose we don’t do anything until we find out what the Legislature is doing.”
Board Member Trevor Shaw made the only attempt to move line items on the budget but got no support. He was the only “no” vote on approving the FY16 budget in first reading.
The meeting began with a public hearing on the budget where the Board heard from district counselors and the Schoenbar assistant principal. Derek Meister, a counselor at Fawn Mountain Elementary spoke on behalf of all eight district counselors about their role in schools. Teachers, a parent and principal echoed the importance of district counselors, whose positions may be at risk.
Board Member David Timmerman reminded the speakers that the district’s funding level is at the discretion of the Borough.
“Instead of us telling them what we need and them funding it, we are going to be given a dollar amount and they’re going to say this is it, and we’re going to drop that line to where we need to. “
Timmerman encouraged those who spoke at the School Board meeting to do the same in front of the Borough.
The Board will continue to work on updating district policy regarding a Drug and Alcohol Free Work Place to account for Alaska’s recent legalization of Marijuana, but decided to revisit the issue in May after passing the budget.